James Barton (vaudeville)
November 1, 1890|
Gloucester City, New Jersey, USA
|Died||February 19, 1962
Mineola, New York
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Occupation||Vaudevillian, character actor|
He was born into a theatrical family on November 1, 1890 in Gloucester City, New Jersey. Barton began performing in minstrel shows and burlesque houses throughout the country in 1898. His years of experience working with African American performers led to his becoming one of the first jazz dancers in America.
After working with repertory companies in the South and Midwest, he made his Broadway debut in the musical revue The Passing Show of 1919 in a role originally intended for Ed Wynn. He frequently was the highlight in otherwise-mediocre productions, and a critic for the Daily News noted, "Whenever the book failed him, he shuffled into one or more of his eccentric dances."  Barton's other theatre credits include Sweet and Low in 1930, Tobacco Road in 1933, Bright Lights of 1944 (which ran only four performances), The Iceman Cometh in 1946, and Paint Your Wagon in 1951.
While appearing on Broadway, Barton also achieved the highest pinnacle of status in vaudeville, headlining at the Palace Theater on Broadway not once but eight times, from March 1928 through April 1932.
On television he appeared in The Ford Television Theatre, Lux Video Theatre, Studio One, The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, Playhouse 90, Kraft Television Theatre, The Rifleman, The Americans, Adventures in Paradise, Naked City, and Frontier Circus.
Bing Crosby considered James Barton to be one his ten favorite performers of all time, alongside names such as Al Jolson, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, and Nat King Cole.
- The Shepherd of the Hills (1941)
- The Time of Your Life (1948)
- Yellow Sky (1948)
- Wabash Avenue (1950)
- The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady (1950)
- Here Comes the Groom (1951)
- The Naked Hills (1956)
- The Misfits (1961)
- "James Barton, 71, Stage Actor, Dies. Veteran Player in 'Tobacco Road'. In Films and TV Famed for Drunken Routine Scored With Dancing". New York Times. February 20, 1962. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
James Edward Barton, actor best known for his earthy role as Jeeter Lester in the longrunning play, "Tobacco Road," died this morning in Nassau Hospital here after a heart attack. His age was 71.
- James Barton at StreetSwing.com
- James Barton at DanceUniverse.com
- Encyclopedia of Vaudeville, Anthony Slide, page 26
- David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace, Amy Wallace, The Book of Lists, 1977, p. 118